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A.K.A.: "The Casanova Killer"
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robberies
Number of victims: 18 - 35
Date of murders: July-November 1974
Date of arrest: December 17, 1974
Date of birth: April 14, 1946
Victims profile: Men, women and children
Method of murder: Strangulation / Shooting
Location: Several States, USA
Status: Shot and killed by an FBI agent after attempting escape while being transferred to a maximum security facility on December 18, 1974
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Paul John Knowles

A Florida native, born in 1946, Knowles logged his first arrest at age 19, spending roughly six months of each year thereafter in jail, on various convictions for burglary and auto theft. He was serving time in Raiford when he began corresponding with California divorcee Angela Covic, and she visited the prison long enough to accept his proposal of marriage, shelling out money for lawyers to win his release.

Parole came through in May 1974, and Knowles flew directly to San Francisco for the nuptials, but Covic had changed her mind, warned off by a psychic who foresaw the entry of a new, dangerous man in her life. The night she dumped him, Knowles allegedly went out and killed three people on the streets of San Francisco, but his claim has not been verified.

Back home in Jacksonville, Knowles was jailed after a bar fight, but he picked a lock and escaped on July 26, 1974. That night, he invaded the home of 65-year-old Alice Curtis, leaving her bound and gagged as he ransacked her house for money, finally taking off in her car. She choked to death on the gag, but Knowles hung around town for a few days, using her vehicle, until police connected him with the crime and his picture began turning up on TV.

Preparing to drop the hot car on a quiet residential street, he spied 11-year-old Lillian Anderson and her seven-year-old sister Mylette, recognizing them as friends of his mother. Convinced the girls had seen him and would notify police, he kidnapped both of them and dumped their strangled bodies in a swamp outside of town.

The next day, in Atlantic Beach, Florida, Knowles broke into the home of Marjorie Howe, strangling her with a nylon stocking and stealing her television set. His next victim was a teenage "Jane Doe" hitchhiker, raped and strangled for sport as he drifted aimlessly, working his way north. On August 23, he invaded the home of Kathie Pierce, at Musella, strangling her with a telephone cord while her three-year-old son looked on, leaving the child unharmed.

On September 3, Knowles met businessman William Bates at a tavern in Lima, Ohio, sharing a few drinks before he strangled Bates and dumped his body in some nearby woods, where it would be discovered in October. Stealing money, credit cards, and Bates's car, Knowles made his way to Sacramento, back through Utah, pausing at Ely, Nevada, long enough to murder campers Emmett and Lois Johnson on September 18.

Three days later, passing through Sequin, Texas, he spotted a female motorist stranded at roadside and stopped "to help," raping her before he strangled her to death and dragged her body through a tangled barbed wire fence. On September 23, he met beautician Ann Dawson in Birmingham and instantly caught her fancy; they traveled together, at her expense, until Knowles tired of the game and killed her September 29. Her body has never been found.

Knowles drifted on through Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, apparently keeping his nose clean, leaving no bodies behind. By October 19, he needed a "fix," and he found it in Woodford, Virginia, barging into the home of 53-year-old Doris Hovey, shooting her dead with her own husband's rifle, then wiping his prints from the gun and placing it beside her body. Afterward, police would find no signs of sex or robbery to offer them a motive in the case.

Still driving Bates's stolen car, Knowles picked up two hitchers in Key West, planning to kill them both, but his scheme went awry when a policeman stopped him for traffic violations. The careless officer let Knowles go with a warning, but the experience had shaken him. Dropping his passengers off in Miami, Knowles phoned his lawyer for advice. Rejecting a suggestion of surrender, he met the attorney long enough to hand over a taped confession, then slipped out of town before police were informed of his presence.

On November 6, in Macon, Georgia, Knowles befriended Carswell Carr and was invited home to spend the night. Over drinks, he stabbed Carr to death and then strangled Carr's 15-year-old daughter, failing in his attempt to have sex with her corpse. In the wake of his flight from Macon, Knowles was also suspected in the November 2 murder of hitchhiker Edward Hilliard, found in some nearby woods, and his companion Debbie Griffin (still, among the missing).

Bar-hopping in Atlanta on November 8, Knowles met British journalist Sandy Fawkes, impressing her with his "gaunt good looks." They spent the night together, Knowles unable to perform in bed, and he failed repeatedly at sex over the next two days, suggesting possible impotence with a willing companion.

They separated on November 10, but Knowles picked up one of Sandy's friends, Susan MacKenzie, the next day, demanding sex at gunpoint. She escaped and notified police, but when patrolmen tried to stop him, Knowles brandished a sawed-off shotgun and made his escape.

In West Palm Beach, he invaded the home of invalid Beverly Mabee, abducting her sister and stealing their car, dropping his hostage off in Fort Pierce, Florida, the following night. A police officer recognized the stolen car next morning and pulled Knowles over, but Knowles was faster on the draw.

Taking the officer hostage, he drove away in the patrol car, using its siren to stop motorist James Meyer, switching cars a second time. Burdened with two prisoners now, Knowles handcuffed both men to a tree in Pulaski County, Georgia, and shot each one in the head at close range. A short time later, Knowles tried to crash through a police roadblock, losing control of his car and smashing into a tree.

A chaotic foot chase ensued, with Knowles pursued by dogs and helicopters, finally cornered by an armed civilian on November 17. In custody, he claimed 35 murders, but only 18 could be verified. On November 18, while being transferred to maximum security, Knowles made a grab for the sheriff's revolver, and FBI agent Ron Angel shot him dead in his tracks.


Paul John Knowles (April 17, 1946 November 18, 1974) (also known as "Lester Daryl Gates", "Daryl Golden" and "The Casanova Killer") was an American spree killer tied to the deaths of 18 people in 1974, though he claimed to have taken 35 lives.

Early life

Born in Florida in 1946, he was first convicted at the age of nineteen, and in the years following he spent more time in prison. In 1974, he was granted parole and sought to marry Mrs. Angela Covic, with whom he had corresponded from prison. Allegedly because of something a psychic told her, she ended the relationship.


After this rejection, Knowles went on a murderous spree across northern Maine. He was eventually caught in Georgia and sent back to Florida.


While riding in the back of a car going to find the location of his murder weapon he used to kill the highway patrolmen and the businessman he used a hidden paperclip to free his handcuffs. There was no screen in the car. Knowles grabbed the sheriff's handgun and fired a round through his holster. Agent Ronnie Angel then fired three shots into Knowles' chest in self-defense. To this day agent Angel will not speak to anyone about the incident.


Alice Cooper was a 65-year-old resident of Jacksonville, Florida. Knowles gagged her on July 26, 1974, while stealing her belongings. She choked to death on her gag.

Lillian and Mylette Anderson, aged eleven and seven respectively, were strangled early August 1974 and subsequently dumped in a nearby swamp.

Marjorie Howe lived in Atlantic Beach, Florida. She was strangled with a nylon stocking. The motive, apparently, was that Knowles stole her television.

Victim #5 remains unnamed. She was a hitchhiker, whom Knowles raped and strangled.

Kathy Pierce was strangled with the cord of her telephone on August 23, 1974. Her three-year-old son, who was also present, remained unharmed.

William Bates met his fate on September 3, after having shared some drinks with Knowles in Lima, Ohio. His body was not discovered until October. His car, money and credit cards were all taken by Knowles.

Emmett and Lois Johnson were out camping in Ely, Nevada, where Knowles murdered both on September 18, 1974.

Victim #10 was a woman whose motorcycle broke down in Sequin, Texas. Knowles raped her before strangling her and dragging her body through some barbed wire. This was on the 21st of September.

Ann Dawson, from Birmingham, Alabama, met Knowles on September 23. They traveled together for a while, until Knowles killed her on the September 29. Her body was never found.

Doris Hovey was fifty-three years old and lived in Woodford, Virginia. She was shot dead by Knowles with her husband's rifle on the October 19, 1974.

Carswell Carr and his daughter met Knowles on November 6 in Macon, Georgia, and invited him over to his house. Subsequently, Knowles stabbed Carr dead and strangled his fifteen-year-old daughter. He attempted to have sexual intercourse with her body, but failed.

Edward Hilliard and Debbie Griffin were hitchhiking near Macon, Georgia, on November 2. Hilliard's body was found in nearby woods, but Griffin's remains were never discovered. Knowles was not proven to have murdered them, but he was under very strong suspicion.

Trooper Charles Eugene Campbell Trooper Campbell was abducted while on patrol and shot by Knowles in Pulaski County, Georgia.

James Meyer was a business man that was also taken hostage, along with Trooper Campbell. He met his fate in the same grisly manner in Pulaski County. Paul John Knowles then handcuffed them to a tree and shot them with the trooper's gun.


  • J.H.H. Gaute and Robin Odell, The New Murderer's Who's Who, 1996, Harrap Books, London

  • Sandy Fawkes, Killing Time, 1977, London

  • Georgina Lloyd, One was not enough, 1976, London


Paul John Knowles

Born and raised in Florida, Paul John Knowles spent about half of his brief life in prison for burglary and other relatively minor crimes. When released from yet another stint in 1974 he traveled to San Francisco to marry a woman he had corresponded with but his potential bride called off the wedding when it became apparent that Knowles was a little odd to be the marrying type.

Highly agitated at this rejection, Knowles traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, and was soon arrested after a bar scuffle and jailed. He avoided a quick trip back to prison by escaping and then proceeded to launch a frightening killing spree.

ON July 26, 1974, just hours after his jail escape, Knowles robbed the home of elderly Alive Curtis, killing her when a gag he had jammed into her mouth suffocated her. Police were soon looking for Knowles in connection with the crime and before leaving town a few days later he kidnapped and murdered Lillian Anderson, 11, and her sister Mylette, 7, because he claimed that the girls knew him and therefore might be able to turn him in.

Knowles dumped their bodies in a rural area and headed to Atlantic Beach, Florida, where he strangled Marjorie Howe in her home. Two days after thathe picked up a hitchhiker, who has never been identified, raping and strangling the woman.

Knowles, who had now committed five murders in a little more than a week, laid low until August 23 when he broke into a Mosella, Florida, home and strangled Katherine Pierce to death while her two-year-old son watched.

Knowles suprisingly allowed the little boy to live. Leaving Florida, the rampaging slayer struck next in Lima, Ohio, where he killed a man he had met in a bar and dumped the body into some woods. Drifting out west again, Knowles shot an old couple dead at a campground in Ely, Nevada, on September 18, and killed a stranded female motorist in Seguin, Texas, three days later.

Ending up in Brimingham, Alabama, Knowles met Ann Dawson and tagged along with her for days before slaying her on September 29. Moving on to Woodford, Virginia, he shot Doris Hovey, 53, dead and was primed to dispatch of a pair of hitchhikers in Florida when he was pulled over by a patrol officer.

Inexplicably, the officer allowed Knowled to drive off with the pair even though the vehicle was stolen. Sufficiently rattled, Knowles let the two go and called his lawyer and arranged a meeting during which the killer taped a confession of his crimes to date. He refused his attorney's pleas to turn himself in and soon resumed his murer spree.

Next came a man named Carswell Carr, who Knowles had met in a Macon, Georgia, bar. Invited to Carr's home he soon stabbed the unsuspecting man to death and then turned on his 15-year-old daughter, strangling and raping the girl.

In Atlanta on November 8 Knowles met British journalist Sandy Fawkes and spent the next few days with her before moving on, leaving the writer unharmed. Fawkes would eventually write a book about the serial killer and her time with him.

Meanwhile, luck was finally running out on Knowles. He was soon forced into two seperate confrontations with law enforcement officers, the first ending with no bloodshed but the second with both the officer and another hostage being shot in the head outside of Pulaski, Georgia.

By now the subject of a massive manhunt, Knowles was finally put into custody after crashing his stolen car while trying to avoid a roadblock shortly after the double murder in Pulaski. Knowles belatedly laid claim to over thirty murders almost immediately after being arrested, but the true total will never be known for sure.

The next day, November 18, he was shot and killed by an FBI agent after picking his handcuffs and going for an officers gun while being transferred to a maximum security facility.

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